Genebanks have the long-term mission of preserving plant genetic resources as an agricultural legacy for future crop improvement. Operating procedures for seed storage and plant propagation have been in place for decades, but there is a lack of effective means for the discovery and transfer of beneficial alleles from landraces and wild relatives into modern varieties. Here, we review the prospects of using molecular passport data derived from genomic sequence information as a universal monitoring tool at the single-plant level within and between genebanks. Together with recent advances in breeding methodologies, the transformation of genebanks into bio-digital resource centers will facilitate the selection of useful genetic variation and its use in breeding programs, thus providing easy access to past crop diversity. We propose linking catalogs of natural genetic variation and enquiries into biological mechanisms of plant performance as a long-term joint research goal of genebanks, plant geneticists and breeders.